Hiring talent is likely the single most important duty business leaders face—and retaining said talent comes in at a razor-close second. Great business leaders know it takes more than a great resume and glowing references to determine whether a candidate will help drive your organization into the future.
The most successful companies focus on hiring innovators: employees who possess the innate attributes and emotional intelligence required to advance your business. These are the people who not only think outside the box—that’s where they spend most of their time.
The big question is: How can you lasso these special unicorns and keep them happy enough to help you grow your organization?
Here are our suggestions for attracting innovative employees to your workforce:
Create a Culture that Speaks for Itself
Even the best recruiting firm in the world can’t win you great hires if you have a poor company culture. A unique, upbeat, autonomous culture is infectious, and will drive innovators through your doors in droves. To become a destination for innovative professionals, take a cue from some of the tech industry greats: Google, Apple and Facebook know the key to attracting the best people is creating a space where creativity is rewarded, collaboration is encouraged and mistakes are seen as learning opportunities rather than failures.
When people love their job, they’re not shy about it. Make your people happy, and your positive reputation will spread like wildfire.
Ensure Leadership Exercises Empathy and Positivity
If your leadership team doesn’t feel personally responsible for the career advancement and satisfaction of their employees, you’ve got a problem. These are the people your most valuable team members and future leaders look to as an example, and it’s absolutely critical these individuals embody the image you want your company to display to clients and potential hires.
Not only should each member of your leadership team remain positive and approachable, but they should also use empathy. A leader who has lost touch with the everyday challenges and struggles of their team is not a leader you want representing your company.
Be Transparent About Opportunities for Advancement
Innovators are intelligent people—and they can see through empty promises and doublespeak. So when they ask about advancement opportunities, be frank.
If you have a straightforward, well-plotted path for upward mobility within your organization, share that. But, if you don’t, be honest. Explain potential opportunities and how you foresee an employee climbing the ladder. Once they’re employed, take time to sit with them and map out a plan for their future.
Ask for Feedback Early
One of the greatest mistakes employers make when interviewing is failing to ask for feedback. Not only can candidates can be a gold mine of information (keep in mind they’re likely interviewing elsewhere and have plenty of insight to share), but asking their advice shows your business values the opinions and experiences of its employees.
Knowing they have an opportunity to make their mark within an organization is important to innovators. Offering them this liberty right off the bat will set you apart.
Remember Experience Isn’t Everything
There are two types of innovators: the highly experienced professional who brings years of industry tribal knowledge, and the young and eager beginner fresh on the professional scene. Both are valuable assets, and every business needs an equal mix of each. But, don’t confuse experience for aptitude. To attract the best and most innovative talent, you have to be open to hiring candidates of all experience levels. A recent college graduate with little more than an internship on his or her resume can quickly become your next star, so long as they have the space and resources to blossom.
If you struggle with bringing in the right talent, you’re not alone. But, by following the tips outlined above, you can transform your business into a magnetic workplace and a space where innovation thrives.
Editor's Note: This post was previously published on Inc.com and has been republished here with permission.
Bringing innovators into your company is only half the battle—you also need to have the right tools to take your company into the workplace of the future. To learn more, check out our free guide: 4 Ways Innovative Leaders Stay Ahead of the Technology Curve.